LIVERPOOL (AFP) - David Palmer, the US-based Australian, made a case with his epic victory in Monday's British Open final for being considered the finest player since the end of the Khan era more than a decade ago. A gut-wrenching 112-minute, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 13-11 defeat of England's James Willstrop brought Palmer his fourth title at the world's oldest tournament - and by far his most dramatic. Add that to Palmer's two World Open successes, and he has a significantly better record in the major events than either the Canadian, Jonathon Power, or the Briton, Peter Nicol, the two other great players of modern times. But it is the character of the New South Wales battler which makes his achievements all the more remarkable. Typically, he saved a match point against Willstrop, surviving two long rallies which ended in lets before winning the third after a desperate scramble by both men in the top left corner. Palmer also saved two match points in the 2002 world final in Antwerp against John White, another US-based Australia raised player (representing Scotland) and five in the 2006 world final against Gregory Gaultier of France. They nickname him the Marine. He is probably the gutsiest player of the lot. It is all the more remarkable that Palmer retains that trait, because at the age of 31 he appeared to have begun a new phase of his life six months ago, when he moved to a coaching job at the university club in Boston and took his family with him. It made Palmer wonder whether he could play again at this level."There has been a lot do to settle in and I've been used to working with my coach Shaun Moxham for ten years twice a day, and now I've been having to figure things out for myself. "I've changed racket companies also, and have been working with a new racket. I only came here wanting to find out whether I could still compete at this level any more." Even those who felt that he could, had doubts about Palmer being able to last a tough tournament, or a really long match, and many people made Willstrop the favourite to win the final. The in-form Yorkshireman has reached finals six times in his last seven tournaments, and when he recovered from two games down to lead 9-6 in the fifth and gained a match point at 10-9 with a penalty stroke decision which made Palmer hold his head in disbelief, it looked odds on a Willstrop win. But tired though Palmer was, and interminable though the rallies must have seemed, he came through a seven-rally tie-break the more resilient player. He concluded it with yet another brave lunge to reach a tight drop shot and somehow projected a slightly mis-hit forehand into the open spaces beyond even the tall Willstrop's reach. "I'm really disappointed: it's just a deep cutting feeling," said Willstrop. "I think he went for it a little more in the last game and it came off. "I have to accept it. It's not disgrace. It was a great effort by him - he's a great player." Even the sceptics now are inclined to agree.